Geography & Geographic Information Science

What Is It?:

Geography and Geographic Information Science (GIS) is the study of the where and why of places, and this involves much more than just memorizing state capitals. Geographers study location and interaction across horizontal space, and maps are crucial for showing geographic information. Other focuses of geography are the relationship between human beings and their environment and examining cultural differences and similarities around the globe.

For more information, please visit the Department of Geography


  • General Geography: studies how space on the earth's surface is arranged and occupied. Students can sample courses from different subfields of geography without having to choose a specialty. Upon completion, the students are prepared for a number of diverse employment opportunities, or for further graduate studies in geography.
  • Geographic Information Science (GIS): emphasizes the creation, use and analysis of digital geographic information to examine economic, environmental, physical and social phenomena. It provides students with in-depth training in contemporary software packages to prepare them for careers in the field. There is growing demand for professional knowledge of the earth's systems and the use of geographic information systems to enhance business, protect the environment and manage the massive amounts of spatial data now widely available on the internet. In fact, the U.S. Department of Labor has identified geospatial technologies as one of the fastest-growing domestic job sectors.
  • Human Geography: gives students an opportunity to pursue specialization in the social science aspect of modern geography. The curriculum includes the systematic study of human social organization and its environmental consequences through patterns and processes. Employment opportunities include urban and regional planning, transportation, marketing, real estate, tourism, and international business.
  • Physical Geography: for those wishing to specialize in the earth science emphasis of modern geography. Patterns of climates, land forms, vegetation, soils, and water are all included. Students will be equipped for careers in weather forecasting, land and water resources management, rangelands, and river management.

Courses That Introduce the Major:

  • GEOG 101—Global Development & Environment
  • GEOG 103—Earth’s Physical Systems
  • GEOG 104—Social and Cultural Geography

Students should consult with an academic advisor regarding course selection prior to the advanced registration period. 


Possible Career Opportunities:

  • Analyze and plan for forests, rangelands, and wetlands
  • City planning
  • International Business
  • Land developers
  • Manage land and water resources
  • Marketing
  • Real estate
  • Tourism
  • Transportation
  • Urban and regional planning
  • Utility and municipal official 

Common Career Titles Related to this Major:

(Some careers may require education beyond an undergraduate degree)

  • Aerial Photo Interpreter
  • Cartographer
  • Community Developer
  • Computer Mapper
  • Demographer
  • Environmental Impact Analyst
  • Health Services Planner
  • Land-Use Analyst
  • Land Economist
  • Urban or Regional Planner

Enhancing Your Academic Experience:

  • Participating in undergraduate research
  • Applying for a study abroad experience
  • Utilizing resources of The Career Center
  • Joining a Registered Student Organization (RSO) related to this major, such as:
    • Urban & Geographic Information Systems Group (GIS Group): facilitates the professional development of undergraduate students while providing unique and valuable services to the U-C community, employing skills learned in the classroom in undertaking real-world projects

Related Skills:


  • Communicate across cultures
  • Present/defend position
  • Summarize results
  • Understand societies
  • Write clearly

Project Development

  • Develop project designs
  • Evaluation
  • Maintain records
  • Plan long-term projects
  • Write grant proposals


  • Identify value systems
  • Interview skills
  • Recognize similarities
  • Surveying & sampling
  • Understand group dynamics


  • Apply non-intrusive methods
  • Computer modeling
  • Conduct field studies
  • Examine data
  • Gather & organize data
  • Read/construct maps/graphs
  • Utilize statistical applications

Further Information:

For more information on what you can do with a major in Geography & GIS, visit The Career Center’s webpage: What Can I Do With This Major.

There are several professional organizations dedicated to Geography & GIS.  Their websites might be able to provide a glimpse in the world of Geography & GIS.  These organizations include Assocation of American Geographers, Geological Society of America, and Environmental Protection Agency.

For more information on the classes needed for a degree in Geography & GIS, visit Undergraduate Programs.